Sunday, 12 March 2017

BathHalf


It's that church again, but this time from the other side. It's that moon again too - the same side.

This is the third reincarnation of St Michael's Without - 'without' the city wall, you see. We live on the other side of it, and the foundations of our 18th century house are built right on the city wall. The First St Michael's fell down due to poor building. The second was torn down due to poor architecture and this one was built in the 19th century on the same site. I believe it may be the only church in England not to be aligned on an East/West axis. The spire started to fall down - it leans precariously one way to a sharp eye - but last year they stabalised it (they hope) by halting the rusting structure within it which was expanding the joints. The enemy within St Michael's Without.

According to my calculations, we live on the peice of medieval wall which incorporated the first King Edward Grammar School in the country, but you know all about my calculations. One of the classrooms was a room above the now demolished North Gate. In those days, latin was an education in itself. These days, Northgate is a Busgate through which you may not drive between the hours of 10.00am and 6.00pm on pain of number-plate recognition. It is only hidden cameras which make it a gate, so they make lots of money from ignorant tourists.

I once had a pass from the Burgermeister of Salzburg to drive into the centre of the old city. It was a massive bit of parchment-like paper with a medieval seal and gothic script, and it was stuck to the windscreen of my van, obscuring quite a bit of road. I would drive up to a red and white striped pole gate which looked like a border crossing, and armed police would examine my pass before raising the bar to let me through. Once in, I was forced to drive at walking pace behind the residents, who strolled through the streets in front of me, seemingly unaware of my presence. This was how it should have been.

We have a difficult problem here in that there is a big fight between those of us who are fed up with signage obscuring the architecture which brings the tourists here in the first place, and informing strangers about the dangers of flouting the rules and regulations regarding driving around when they do come here in cars. When a film company uses Bath as a set, they take all the signage down for a day or two, because everyone knows that motor cars were quite rare in Jane Austen's day, so did not need the strict regulation they do now.

I saw one episode of Doctor Who in the 1970s which was filmed in Trafalga Square, London. The square and surrounding roads were completely and utterly empty, save for pigeons, the Doctor and about 20 Daleks. They must have arrived before dawn and begun filming immediately, but even so, can you imagine that being possible today?

We have been watching SS/GB, and in it, the Houses of Parliament are draped with massive red, white and black swastika banners. I am guessing they used CGI for that...

The population of Bath must have quadrupled today. There are several thousand runners in the Bath Half Marathon, and they bring with them their entire families and most of their friends. Cafes and bars love it, but it is a pain in the arse for everyone else.


17 comments:

  1. We have seen quite a few yellow lines in period dramas as well as a burglar alarm and bottled water on a period fireplace !!! It must be quite disruptive and annoying to you Bath residents when a film company takes over ..... and, being such a beautiful and important city, it must happen a lot. Lovely photograph of the church ..... I could imagine H.I. doing a painting of it
    XXXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bath makes quite a bit as a location. I don't mind it.

      Delete
  2. All those bouncing boobies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must be going through some strange version of mid-life crisis...

      Delete
  3. We have a St Michael-at-Plea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Know the meaning, or is Plea the name of a place?

      Delete
    2. I looked it up and it was something to do with judges and legal pleas heard there. I note that before that it was called St Michael-Not-Stone. No explanation of that was given.

      Delete
    3. Wood? Here there is a Ladymead House. This was built on a field used for ancient assizes called Law Day Mead.

      Delete
    4. It has a history going back to the 13th Century and a lot of elaborate flintwork.

      Delete
    5. Flint knap or knapped Flint are the terms, not that that makes anything clearer. Flint was an infill to cut stone. Still is.

      Delete
    6. The earliest name we know of was St Michael at Motstow; that is, at the market, or meeting place. The name changed after the Archdeacon's court was held here, so the name essentially means 'at the court.
      One of the first thing you notice walking along the road is how high the churchyard is. This is the result of centuries of burials crammed into the small churchyard.

      Delete
    7. Loads of churches were built on pagan mounds. Nothing to do with mass Christian burial.

      Delete
    8. P. S. Wikipedia extract of course.

      Delete
    9. Thanks. The mound at St Michael-at-Plea is high above the path. There is to be a festival of flint knapping in April. Over 30 churches in the city are involved. Big flint area here as you know, I am sure.

      Delete
    10. Yes - Bath has no flint. The chalk downs of Marlborough are the nearest source to here I think.

      Delete
  4. We almost used to dread sunshine in Brighton. Half of London would descend to eat ice creams on the beach and clog all the shops; much like your marathon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We dread the months of April and March - Bath is the capital of Hen-Parties for the lower orders.

      Delete